Phew! Glad that’s over!

Hurrah and Phew!!   Today I reached my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words in a month. And I am, apparently a winner!  Just like everyone else who made it to 50K words.  My story is not finished, I was bulking up what I thought was the end but wound up adding yet another problem to be solved.  But now that I can actually edit the thing instead of madly writing, looks like it will either be a new cool addition to the novel or axed and I’ll finish the actual story in less than 50K words.

I may post it here in serial form if I get some requests… anyone interested in reading a first attempt sci-fi novel?  The hubby said he liked it, but hey, he is the hubby.  Though I do trust his honesty…. well, you’ll have to judge for yourself.

In addition to my mad writing skills, I took a mandala workshop too.  So, in honor of that, here are the exercises in order as we worked through them:

Day 1, seeing circles and learning about the mystery of the circle!  Medium: twist crayons

20141130_185506 This was a cool exercise in going round and round… I inadvertently made an eye in the middle!  My text above says, once seen, it could not be un-seen.  There I am, on the inside looking out.

Day 1, continued.  The magic of circles… interesting geometrical facts… like how the radius applied to the circumference creates 6 segments that make other interesting shapes when you connect the lines. Medium: Sharpie Markers and colored pencil.



Day 2, we moved on to lotus shaped mandalas.  Fun!!  Wish you could see the copper colored ink.  Medium: Sharpies and copper ink.




Day 3 was a self exploration using collage. Never my favorite medium, but the point was to cover up our affirmations that were written below the images.  No thinking allowed…. a good exercise for me!  Sometimes I need to shut it down or shut it up.  My brain, that is.   Medium:  pencil, magazines and matte medium.




Day 4, just finished.  A Hamsa…. not exactly a mandala, but a wonderful pattern of protection.  Also a fun exercise.  Medium:  Prismacolors, water color pencils, Sharpies.



Day 5…. well, I think I ‘ll save that for the next post.  Always leave ’em wanting more, said the hubby.  Not that he said it first, but still, a very good idea. 🙂

Blog vacation of sorts

Dear Readers,

I should have told you all sooner, but I am taking a short blog break.  November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo  for short.  Blogger friends of mine take part every year and this year I thought (gulp!) I’d give it a try.  The task is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month which means I have to average 1,667 words a day.  Which I have been doing, so yay!!  But that means, no blogging for now.  I’ll be lucky if I can get back into the studio to paint.

In addition to this craziness, I also signed up for a week long on-line mandala workshop.  I’ll post some of those creations later, we just started the workshop today.

I’m at 28,000+ words right now and on track to finish by the end of the month!  Wowsa!  I’ll be back to the blog in December, thanks to all of you for your support and interest in my work and ideas and verbosity.  Seems like I always have something to say about something, so maybe writing this book was good for me.


A few words about Art

OK, I just need to get this off my chest.

The other day I was having a discussion with a friend of mine regarding  what was Art and who are Artists.   I was speaking emphatically on the topic when she stopped me with a question.  She asked me why I felt so strongly about the subject.  I had to think about that one.  It’s true, I do see edges between arts and crafts and artisans and artists.  But when someone asks me to defend my position  it occurs to me that there are two camps on this subject.  The all inclusives and the separatists.  And it surprises me when the inclusives camp is less tolerant than the separatists.  I seem to have run into the idea of “you’re either with us or against us” more often from inclusives, when what I feel as a separatist is, we are all cool doing our own thing, you don’t have to believe what I believe.

This came up because recently there is some movement in my community to start an artists cooperative where we share ideas and develop a place where we can show our work. I wrote another post about how I feel about the whole group art get together, (read here) so I won’t rehash that, but in discussing the community space, we touched upon these ideas of what/who is an Artist?  I especially dislike the notion that all of life is art and art is all things. The idea that art is everything and everywhere is irritating. I’m sorry, not everything is art. Philosophically, if everyone is special, then no one is special.  It’s like saying everything is God and God is everywhere. Okay, well I guess people do say that. Does that mean that Art is God?  Or, God is Art?  Or that Art is our God?  (lol)  Well, enough semantic double speak, here’s the nuts and bolts of what I mean when I say that there is a difference between Arts and Crafts.

But first, let me reiterate: I am an artist who paints and sculpts. I can draw and compose a visually balanced photograph. And I am a crafter who makes baskets, jewelry, what have you. I can also be an artisan who makes lovely signs, builds clever shelves, imprints leaves into my plastered walls.


Yes, I use my creative abilities in everything I do. So I feel more than qualified to express my opinions that these are  different facets of my artistic ability.  But, if I did only one… like paint, then I wouldn’t call myself a crafter.  Because I wasn’t.  And crafters who don’t engage in creating art for art’s sake aren’t Artists.   They are Artisans. There is a difference and this whole notion of inclusive “we are all the same, we are all artists” is simply not a truth for me.  I don’t believe I have to be on board with this notion to be a good person or to be a good artist or even a good community member.

All the wonderful things we do as humans that are creative and enriching is very important to our psyche as a whole. It’s important to our psyches as individuals as well. But we water it down when we throw it all into the same pot.  Perhaps my hang up with labeling is improper use of labels, rather than the labels themselves.  If we use the word Artist, to represent creative endeavors, than we could all say we are all artists but define our art with a fist name:  Fine Artist, Craft Artist, Fabric Artist, Food Artist, Musical Artist, Wood Artist.  Or, we could continue the practice of using the word Art to describe a unique creative project.


Are chefs artists? Yes, most certainly there is a huge creative process to making delicious food. But should I invite chefs to an artists gathering? Are musicians artists? Sure, but  should they to hang their instruments on the gallery wall? If we turn it around to examine the logic, should I, as an artist be included in a creative cooking workshop? Not unless I’m there to cook, right?  Should I enter the battle of the bands competition and rhythmically throw paintbrushes at a canvas while singing?

So no, I’m not a chef… and no, I’m not in a band.  I don’t get to call myself a chef just because I can cook or a musician just because I sang in the school choir. I’m not that kind of artist.  Same goes for crafters. Craft is a learned skill and usually makes something useful. It’s reproduce-able by the artisan and  by others just as skilled in their craft.

On the other hand, Art is a unique item and generally is not reproduce-able by other skilled artists. I have my own style of painting, Jen has hers… we are not interchangeable.  Now I happen to know several very skilled artisan basket makers.  And you know what?  Two of them make the same style of basket.  Slightly different to account for their individuality, but it is really the same basket and I can make it too.  Just because I am an artist, doesn’t make my basket art. A basketmaker is a Crafter because they are recreating what someone else designed.  Make a basket out of zip ties, washers and driftwood?  That’s probably Art.   An artist makes something that no one had thought of before… it’s creative and unique and innovative.

It's a lovely basket, and nicely made but it's not Art.

It’s a lovely basket, and nicely made but it’s not Art.  However, the photo may qualify!


Here is a wonderful 5 minute TED talk from Laura Morelli describing the history of art and craft. She describes how we came to differentiate between the two. She wraps things up with an oft quoted truism “art is in the eye of the beholder” which, to me, is really  like saying at this point “lets agree to disagree”.  Most unsatisfying, but as a separatist, I can get behind the idea.  Along with the great history lesson was a nugget of truth that I loved: work is elevated to art by being innovative. And I’d have to agree with her on that one. Because if anyone can recreate my basket (and anyone who knows how, can) then it’s not art.  But if you are skilled enough to reproduce my painting, that bumps you up to being a Forger… and the first name of that title is Art.

Want to read more?

And finally, my last bit of analogy. Writing. The best works are art, but even then it has it’s own label: Literature. Great literature is unique, different from what came before.  Most likely it’s a work of fiction or poetry. That is to say, made up, and creative because it was created from the writers imagination. Even if it was based on real life. Now, there are some great cookbooks out there. And manuals and text books even! But they are not literature. The greatest cookbook in the world is not high art. It doesn’t diminish a cookbook to not be called literature. But it certainly diminishes the literature to put it in the same category as cookbooks. Yes, it’s true, they are both books, and so is the Physicians Desk Reference. But you don’t see Oprah putting that on her night-stand and my guess is, neither do you.

I rest my case.


This may not be very good, but it is Art. It is not a Craft.

Hope Pass

I heard back from my thru hiker.  (She’s mine, I claim her!!)  The photo she took is of Hope Pass.  I love this name, it’s so full of promise and the whole time I’ve been working on the painting, I feel happy and uplifted by the image.  So of course I have to rename the painting.  A rainy day kept me indoors and I finally got everything right that I thought was wrong with it.  Here is the completed work:  Hope Pass

Hope Pass, Colorado

Hope Pass, Colorado